Rich in omega- 3s and an­tiox­i­dants, macadamia oil is one of the health­i­est fats around.

One day fat is bad; the next it’s good. What is the real deal on di­etary fat?

Better Nutrition - - CONTENT - /// BY JONNY BOW­DEN, PHD, CNS Jonny Bow­den, PhD, CNS, is a board- cer­ti­fied nu­tri­tion­ist and the best- sell­ing au­thor of 14 books. His lat­est is The 100 Health­i­est Foods on Earth. Visit him at jon­ny­bow­den. com.

Once upon a time there was no con­fu­sion about healthy eat­ing. We all knew the rules, even if we didn’t al­ways fol­low them. High- com­plex carbs, heavy on the grains, mod­er­ate fish and chicken. Low calo­rie— even lower fat.

But that was then. Emerg­ing sci­ence sug­gests that we were not only wrong about fat, we were spec­tac­u­larly, em­bar­rass­ingly wrong.

It’s clear that our knowl­edge of what fat is, what it does, and what it does not do needs a se­ri­ous up­date. Let’s start by look­ing at three of the big­gest myths re­lated to fat and dis­ease.

MYTH 1: Sat­u­rated Fat Causes Heart Dis­ease

Ac­tu­ally, it doesn’t. There have been sev­eral ma­jor, peer- re­viewed meta- analy­ses in the past decade com­pletely de­bunk­ing the no­tion that sat­u­rated fat is a causal fac­tor in heart dis­ease. In 2010, re­searchers re­viewed 21 stud­ies look­ing for the re­la­tion­ship of di­etary sat­u­rated fat to the risk of coro­nary heart dis­ease. They couldn’t find one. “There is no sig­nif­i­cant ev­i­dence for con­clud­ing that di­etary sat­u­rated fat is as­so­ci­ated with an in­creased risk of CHD ( coro­nary heart dis­ease) or CVD ( car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease),” they con­cluded.

This lack of as­so­ci­a­tion was con­firmed in sev­eral other stud­ies, no­tably a 2014 re­view in the An­nals of In­ter­nal Medicine, which found no link be­tween sat­u­rated fat con­sump­tion and the risk of heart dis­ease or death.

MYTH 2: Veg­etable Oils Are Good

Well, not al­ways. Veg­etable oils don’t ac­tu­ally come from veg­eta­bles. They’re pro­cessed from grains such as corn, or from plants such as soy­beans. Those we com­monly use— corn oil, saf­flower oil, sun­flower oil, and canola oil— are fre­quently de­rived from GMO crops, un­less they’re or­ganic. They’re pro­cessed at high heat, of­ten with harsh chem­i­cals, so by the time they end up on the shelf, there’s lit­tle nu­tri­tional value left. What’s more, they are mostly made up of omega- 6 fats, which— in the ab­sence of suf­fi­cient omega- 3s— are pro- in­flam­ma­tory.

MYTH 3: An­i­mal Prod­ucts Are Un­healthy and Don’t Be­long in a “Clean” Diet

It’s true that toxic an­i­mal prod­ucts are un­healthy and don’t be­long in your diet. But note the word “toxic.” Toxic an­i­mal prod­ucts come from an­i­mals that have been raised in un­speak­able con­di­tions, fed an in­flam­ma­tory diet, given mas­sive amounts of an­tibi­otics, in­jected with hor­mones and steroids, and fed grain sprayed with chem­i­cals. Most of this meat comes from “fac­tory farms” or CAFOs ( con­fined an­i­mal feed­lot op­er­a­tions).

Beef that is 100 per­cent grass- fed and or­ganic is the op­po­site of toxic meat. The cows graze on their nat­u­ral diet of pas­ture. Their omega- 3 con­tent is higher, their ( pro- in­flam­ma­tory) omega- 6 con­tent lower. They tend to have high con­cen­tra­tions of CLA ( conju- gated linolenic acid), which has an­ti­cancer and anti- obe­sity prop­er­ties. [ Read more about grass- fed meat and try our recipe for Bal­samic Black­strap Steak Salad on p. 46.]

A New Way of Look­ing at Fat

So the old way of clas­si­fy­ing fat— an­i­mal fat “bad,” veg­etable fat “good”— turns out to be pretty use­less. In our 2016 book, Smart Fat, Steven Masley, MD, and I sug­gest di­vid­ing fat into two cat­e­gories— toxic and non­toxic.

The sim­ple take- away? Avoid toxic fat, and don’t worry about the rest. Wel­come clean fat back into your diet. It re­ally shouldn’t have left.

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